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Coon dogs draw visitors to Orangeburg County; Grand American has bench show, hunts, vendors

The Grand American Coon Hunt brings thousands of people to the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds each January. It’s the city's first major event of the year.

Sponsored by the United Kennel Club, the nationally known event is often viewed as the kickoff to the UKC coonhound events calendar.

The Grand American features skilled hounds from across the nation. There are two night hunts and one bench show.

IN PHOTOS: 2019 Grand American Coon Hunt views from Saturday at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds

The family-friendly event is not just for coon hunters, but visitors can find a variety of vendors and catch up with old friends while making new ones.

Between 27,000 and 30,000 visitors are anticipated each year, along with an additional 800 dog-owner participants and around 100 vendors, Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce President Reyne Moore has said.

IN PHOTOS: 2018 Grand American Saturday Nite Hunt, Overall Nite Hunt top finishers

"It is one of the premiere night hunt events in the country. Visitors will come from all over the U.S. to enjoy the Grand American," she said in a previous interview.

Moore also noted the event also creates an economic boon for the county, particularly for restaurants.

Grand American Coon Hunt marks 50 years in 2015

"In addition to that income, we also see Grand American and UKC (United Kennel Club) hotel room and camping rentals, fuel-ups at Orangeburg County gas stations and an immeasurable impact on local retail establishments. In fact, many visitors bring their whole families to enjoy the event and experience what Orangeburg has to offer before, during and after the programs," Moore said.

She said that the Grand American Coon Hunt is a welcome attraction in the county.

55 Things to Do: The collection

"Orangeburg is an outdoorsman's dream, and we would love to see more events like this which highlight our local environment, wonderful organizations like the UKC and American Cooner magazine, all while bringing significant economic impact to our collective backyard," she said. The event is presented by American Cooner magazine.

Veteran teacher recognized by OCCOC for wisdom

Dotty Strickland has a calm demeanor and carefulness of thought that has served her well in nearly four decades of teaching students whose development she has willingly prioritized.

Strickland began her teaching career in Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5, teaching kindergarten through third-grade students. She went on to teach kindergarten through third grade in OCSD4, where she is currently an early childhood development instructor at its Cope Area Career Center, or CACC.

She has been praised for continuing to inspire young adults, as well as her positive interaction with both her students and the adults with whom she works.

Strickland doesn't mind learning from others and is thankful for her years of experience in a teaching profession for which she said you have to have a passion in order to make an effective impact.

In her 39th year of teaching, it is her expression of knowledge and good judgment that has earned her the designation as the exemplification of wisdom as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.

The honor took the veteran teacher by surprise.

"I was very much surprised and also very appreciative," said Strickland, who also teaches an Introduction to Teaching course at CACC. 

The Cameron resident said wisdom comes with time.

"I think the years of experience have brought me to some wisdom. It's just great to be able to share knowledge and experiences -- the good and bad experiences, what works and what doesn't work -- with other people, including my students and my peers," Strickland said.

She added, "I kind of laugh because I can remember being a young 22-year-old teacher looking up to the experienced older teachers, as I used to say, for those answers. Of course, time has gone by quickly, and here I am now one of those older experienced teachers. I guess some people choose to call it wise, but I tend to call it experienced."

She said there are also a lot of things that wisdom is not, particularly as it pertains to students.

"As a teacher, when I think of wisdom, I don't think it's necessarily a standardized test score. I don't think it's necessarily that GPA, or that top grade. I think wisdom really is just a lot of experience in life, a lot of opportunities.

"I think it's also gifts that we've been given. And I think wisdom is taking all of those things, the opportunities, experiences and gifts, and then using them to put back into our community to make our community and world a better place," Strickland.

At CACC, she said, "We don't just educate children, but we also give them the skills they need. And I think that's where wisdom comes into place also. I think getting out and getting those jobs that require those skills of the welders, the automotive technicians that we have out there, the cosmetologists, that in itself makes a wise person," she said.

For her, the character trait of wisdom comes from a variety of people.

"My mom really instilled education in our family a lot. I've learned a lot from my coworkers and gotten a lot of knowledge from administrators. Of course, my husband reminds me constantly to think with my brain and not my heart.

"Sometimes I think with my heart, but not always. So I think it's just a combination of people in my life that have really given me the wisdom that I need to impart to other people. I'm very grateful for them," Strickand said.

She is indeed grateful for her own family, including her husband of 36 years and their two adult daughters, both of whom are employed in the education field.

"One is in speech pathology and one is in early childhood education," she said, noting that she hopes her children display wisdom in their crafts as well.

"You always hope that your children will grow up to be smarter and more wise than you, and I do think they are. I go to them often for some wisdom," Strickland said.

She reiterated that wisdom is more than "test scores and GPAs."

"All of that is so important but, you know, wisdom is truly a combination of things. It's socially knowing how to get along with others, how to handle your emotions in life, how to have those soft skills, which we teach at the Cope Area Career Center so much.

"I think all of that together makes people wise today. And I think we look to those wise people that can handle their emotions. It's that combination package, it's not just the academics," she said.

Strickland has enjoyed having helped mold students in the productive adults that a lot of them have become. She said that's been the best part of teaching.

"I think it's seeing how they come back and contribute to their community, the careers they have, seeing them as parents, seeing the knowledge that you've given to them and how they're using it to make their lives, families and communities better," she said.

She added, "We have such a teacher shortage now in our state and the U.S., but, you know, it really is a passionate thing. It's not just for everybody, and you really have to be passionate about teaching."

She praised the OCCOC for its own passion in helping to spread good character throughout the community.

"I think it's a great program. I remember years back when I worked at the primary school how just instilling those character traits in the children goes a long way. Even now in high school, I see it in them. I see them having those traits of respect, responsibility," she said.

"And I think when Orangeburg does this, in the long run it's making us a better place in which to live. We're the ones that will benefit from it."

Individuals interested in nominating a Citizen of the Month can visit the OCCOC website at

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Orangeburg woman shot when she went to check strange lights, knock

Someone shot a 47-year-old Rivelon Road woman in her right leg near her knee at 11:14 p.m. Sunday, according to an Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office incident report.

When deputies arrived, they noticed the front screen door and large front window had several bullet holes in them.

The woman told deputies the incident began when she saw lights from a vehicle shining into the bedroom window.

She peered from the blinds to see if she could recognize the vehicle, but she wasn’t able to determine the make and model of it.

A man, who was also in the residence, said the woman woke him up to say she saw a vehicle shining its lights in the window.

The woman went to the front door. She thought she heard someone knocking and asked who was there.

The man said that’s when he heard gunshots ring out and the woman ran back toward the man.

A week before this incident, residents at a Baxter Street home called deputies to report that someone shot at their home multiple times.

An hour after that, a family less than five miles away called to report their home and vehicle were shot. Members of the Breezy Drive family said that just before 1 a.m. Monday, Feb. 18, someone shot their home several times.

No one was injured in those incidents.

At around 3 a.m. on that same Monday, someone shot at a Coleman Avenue residence and two of the four people in the residence were hit.

The cases remain under investigation.

If anyone has any information on the incidents, they are asked to call the sheriff’s office at 803-534-3550 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC. Callers can remain anonymous.

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Orangeburg man accused of robbing juvenile at gunpoint on basketball court

An Orangeburg man says his charge of armed robbery stems from a “misunderstanding.”

Wendell Corey Faciane, 19, of Wannamaker Street is accused of robbing a juvenile on the basketball court of Clark Middle School on Presidents Day.

During a bond heading Friday, Faciane told the court, “I promise I’m not a threat to nobody.”

“I work and I go home,” he said. Faciane says he also looks after his little brother.

“This whole situation is just a misunderstanding,” he told the court.

Orangeburg Department of Public Safety officers allege Faciane and a co-defendant had a gun when they threatened to shoot the juvenile at the basketball court on Bennett Street.

Police say the two took items from the juvenile.

The not-yet-named co-defendant is a student at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.

The alleged incident took place on Monday, Feb. 18 around 3:30 p.m. School was not in session that day.

Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 spokesman Bill Clark said the accused student, “will be subject to the disciplinary process outlined in the Student Code of Conduct.”

The mother of the victim told police that her son and two of his friends were at the basketball court when they were, “approached by a guy who showed them a gun,” the report states.

The warrant alleges that, “the defendant’s mother advised that the defendant has a gun.”